This entry is part 10 of 17 in the series Accumulated Knowledge


“Will I get drunk if I play Commander?” – Mathieu Laforce
Only if you are playing it right.” – SwordsToPlow

Drinking and Commander have been together ever since I can remember.  Honestly that really isn’t very long.  The doctors said it had something to do with “over-drinking.” That is like saying I had too much fun.  You can ask Daryle Singletary about if that’s even a thing.  On any given Saturday, this means sipping on the occasional beverage while you play, having a few to help with your creativity in deck design, chugging down a beverage in between games, having a swig from a flask to calm nerves for a PTQ, or having a nice breakfast bourbon in the morning while you podcast about Commander.  All of these are perfectly acceptable ways of enhancing your drinking experience with Magic.

Every now and then, people want to play a Magic the Gathering drinking game.  You need to be very careful about how you go about this.  If a drinking game is too slow, like loser/winner-drinks, you end up playing for hours without really feeling the effects. You might as well be playing Magic sober.  I’ll be damned if I am going to be sober while I am sitting at home, eating pizza bagels and having a sausage party at 10pm on a Saturday night.  That will never lead too way too personal stories or me grooving out to some gangster rap until people ask if I know I am white.  

If a game is too fast, drink-every-time-a-creature-dies, you are going to end up blacking out and needing to learn the local annulment laws or be stuck paying alimony to someone named Vanilla Waterfall.  Vomiting whiskey is just a painful and messy way to open up a bottle and pour it down the drain.  If you open up a bottle of whiskey and pour it down the drain, you should have certain parts of your anatomy glued to your stomach.  I have rubber gloves and gorilla glue; don’t test me.  

I have learned a surprising amount about drinking and Magic through rigorous testings, legal proceedings and poison control hotline conversions.  I have found there are two basic ways to go about playing a MTG drinking game;

  1. Reward and Punishment
  2. The Drink Step

Reward and Punishment
Reward and Punishment is a game based off the Armada Games EDH League points system.  The first thing you need to do is print off a copy of the league points system for each player.  People will forget the rules before too long, so a written copy will help things along splendidly.  You and your group can modify the list or create one of your own. The Armada list provides us with a simple +/- point system.  You control how people drink depending on what points you earn.  I have included some tips and tricks for advanced players.

  • -4 points: Chug your drink/Take 2 shots.  The only way to get this is too kill someone in the first 5 turns.  Limited to 1 per game.  The limit is only there so no one kills themselves for comboing off in a 10 person game.  I know we all wish these people would die, but in reality you don’t want that hanging over your head.  Trust me.
  • -2 points: Drink Twice/Take a shot.  It is important to note that “taking a drink” does not equal taking a full shot.  A drink is the equivalent to a normal sip.   It is a delicate balance. Remember to take a normal sip and don’t be a pansy.  If at any time your group believe you to have faked taking a drink, you must drink again.
  • -1 point: Drink Once.  Sometimes these things need to be done.  Drinking actually makes you feel better about it.   You can apply that to a lot of things, like cleaning toilets, changing a litter box, or going on a job interview.  Johnnie Walker and  Jack Daniels  always make the best references when looking for a new job.
  • +1 point: Force someone to drink.  Politics will come into play quickly with the +1 point rewards.  This is where you have to balance losing with how much you want tomorrow to hurt.  If you are being a bit of a turd, people will make calm down one way or another.  Side note: I don’t recommend this variant for angry drunks.  You will quickly become guy who passed out with his shoes on and got half his head shaved and a sharpie Hitler-stach.
  • +2 points: Force 2 people to drink. It is important to note that you can always target yourself.  You cannot target the same person with both drinks.  You can target a player that has been eliminated.  The rule to target someone who has been eliminated was added so everyone could stay involved.  For iron-man games we have also added the rule that every time you die, you get to play 3 turns in.  Eventually the only way someone can win is by an alternate win condition, killing everyone at once, or being the last one who we need to call a cab for.
  • +4 points: Force someone to chug or everyone takes a shot.  A +4 is a big accomplishment, so you get a few choices here.  You can always replace chug with “take 2 shots”. Personally, I like to make everyone take a shot.  It is a great accomplishment to get a Darksteel Reactor or Helix Pinnacle to actually win.  Let’s celebrate!

The Drink Step
My preference for drinking and Magic has got to be The Drink Step.  I was introduced to this variant of the game by some local judges.  I love it.  The Drink Step is best used when playing in a more competitive Commander group.  I was told by one of the people who introduced me to the game that they had never even finished a single Drink Step Commander game.  That night, we finished 6 games. I was doing research for Whiskey Identity  and hosting the get-together.  Hosting means that I get to drink from my goblet/chalice instead of a regular glass. In case you are wondering, all alcohol does taste better out of a goblet. 

The Drink Step is relatively simple.   The Drink Step adds a phase in the game right between Upkeep and Draw.  You start every turn going; Untap, Upkeep, Drink, then Draw.  Whenever it is your drink phase, you must take a drink.  The drink Step adds a trigger to the draw step.  It adds the trigger, “If you have not taken a drink during the drink phase when you draw for your Draw Phase, drink twice.  All of your permanents become tapped.  Any permanents you play enter the battlefield tapped.  This effect cannot be countered by any spell or ability.”  It’s important to note that you can respond to missing the trigger by playing any instants. You can also use Sundial of the Infinite to avoid drinking for a turn.

There are some side effects of playing with the Drink Step.  The biggest I have seen is that players will rarely concede.  A Teferi-Knowledge Pool lock does not end the game; it just means people are going to drink while they watch you play Magic. Drink Step highly discourages extra turns.  If the way you combo to win is taking infinite turns, beware.  People will force you to play through those turns until you can get your win condition out.  Winning isn’t worth alcohol poisoning.  Having a Lighthouse Chronologist will seem great until you stop being able to read cards or pronounce consonants.

Additional Tips and Conclusions
Drinking and Magic is fun, no doubt about it.  If you don’t enjoy drinking, well I guess Magic is probably still fun on its own?   I suggest playing on a big table with playmats.  The playmats can buy you the few extra seconds you need to save cards from a Mudslide living up to its name.  I also suggest double sleeving your decks if possible.  Perfect Fits and Dragon Shields or KMC sleeves can avert monumental disasters.  I honestly suggest only playing and drinking responsibly.  Decks are expensive and you don’t want to be forced to buy your friend a new set of beta duals because your beer cast a permanent Ruination on $3000 land base.  If you do want to drink to excess, I recommend playing with pauper decks.  Limit deck construction to $50 and you won’t feel nearly as bad about a Vodkaulhaups disaster.

If you have any questions about Magic, whiskey, or just random questions,  shoot me an email to or follow me on twitter @swordstoplow.  Remember what my father taught me; no matter how much you drink, you can never fall off of the floor.


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